Aircraft Industry Facts Most People Don’t Know

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Opening A Cabin Door Mid-Flight Is Nearly Impossible

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It’s always so dramatic in the movies—the emergency door in the airplane cabin opens and begins sucking everyone and everything out into the wide blue yonder. This is generally the moment in which our hero does something both daring and impractical, thus saving the day and rescuing the beautiful love interest who was introduced in the first act.

The reality’s a bit less exciting. While a opening the door mid-flight is not recommended, cabin doors are designed to keep such a thing from happening. The portal in question is always a plug door—which is larger than the opening it covers. This, combined with safety locks and the pressure within the cabin itself, work to hold the door firmly in the frame and prevent your flight from turning into an action movie.

While we’re on the subject, the way aircraft are pressurized is pretty interesting too. During the jet engine’s compressor stage, air is “bled off” and fed under pressure into the cabin, thus creating and maintaining a safe and comfortable environment for the passengers and crew. Military aircraft and spacecraft use a different version, with high-tech cryogenic tanks doing the heavy lifting for pressurization.

A Boeing 747 Can Carry 200 Tonnes of Fuel

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We know airplanes carry passengers, cargo, and military equipment, and we know that some birds can carry impressive amounts of weight for absurdly long distances. But did you ever stop to think about how much fuel aircraft can carry, or how much that fuel weights? Of course you didn’t—you only think about yourself. Jerk.

In reality airplanes carry impressive amounts of fuel—up to 60,000 gallons for larger commercial aircraft. How much does that weight? Well it depends on the type of fuel and its composition, the temperature at the time the plane refueled, and . . . you get the idea. The short answer is that a fully loaded commercial airliner may be carrying as much as 200 tons of fuel, depending on the flight time needed. Makes you wonder why they charge so much for an extra suitcase, doesn’t it?

And the fuel they use isn’t the 87 octane you feed your second-hand minivan. The most common commercial airline jet fuels go by the monikers Jet A and Jet A-1. The former is most commonly used in the US and Canada, while the latter is more widely found in the rest of the world. Why the difference? It has to do with a lot of boring aviation history, so let’s just say to each their own. 

Airplane Contrail Length Can Tell You If A Storm is Approaching

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Most of us can remember being a little kid and looking up at the sky wondering at the long thin clouds that airplanes seemed to leave in their wake. Was that smoke? Were they crop-dusting? Was the whole thing just plain (ha!) old fashioned magic?

Well, the truth is, as always, more interesting than fiction. Airplane contrails (that’s the technical term for those of you who slept through high school physics) are composed mostly of water vapor, which turns to ice when it vents from jet engines at high altitudes. Combined with the right lighting conditions, and you’ll see those remarkably pretty feather-like traces throughout a clear blue sky. How long they last depends on the air temperature, humidity, and the turbulence at that altitude, but it may be anywhere from a few seconds to several hours, painting the sky with a memory of where a particular flight passed through. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

And for the record: while conspiracy theorists love to talk about insidious plots to fill the sky with chemicals via contrails (Google “chemtrails”, it’s a hoot) there’s no evidence for such a plot. However, you can predict the weather using contrails: thin contrails that dissipate quickly indicate fair weather , while thicker, longer lasting ones may mean that a storm is inbound.

Studies Show That Sitting Near Back of Plane Increases Chances of Survival in Crash

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Being smart, educated people, we know that flying is one of the safest modes of travel—certainly far safer than driving or, say, whitewater rafting. And aviation is so safe in part because of the work of countless professionals tirelessly laboring to find new and better ways to make sure that every flight lands safely regardless of its destination or cargo. Let’s take a moment to remember those heros—one of them likely saved your life and you didn’t even know it.

Along those lines, the geniuses at Popular Mechanics did a study and found some interesting-if-gruesome facts about plane crashes. As it turns out, passengers who sit closer to the tail or rear of the aircraft are more likely to survive a crash than those who are seated further forward. Why is that? Well, there’s a lot of physics and engineering involved, but essentially the nose of the plane is most likely to be the point of impact during a crash, and it’s best to be as far away from that action as possible. So remember this next time you book a flight, if only to help with your peace of mind while en route to that dream tropical vacation or that ultra-exciting professional conference in Cleveland.

Large Airplanes are as Fuel Efficient As Modern Compact Cars

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We’ve talked about how much fuel airplanes can carry—turns out its somewhere between “a lot” and “a whole freakin’ lot”–but did you ever think about their fuel efficiency? Nope, once again you’re only thinking about you. While common sense might tell us that airplanes run through fuel like frat parties run through beer, in reality commercial aircraft are some of the most fuel efficient vehicles out there. For example, the largest commercial jets like the Airbus A380, Boeing 787, ATR-600, and Bombardier C Series all use less than three liters (that’s three of those mid-sized soda bottles; get it together, America) of fuel per 100 passenger kilometers (60 miles). Couching that in automotive terms, that puts those large flying machines on par with the best economy cars when it comes to saving fuel.

And planes are only getting more efficient. High speed innovations like lighter building materials, more efficiently geared engines, better fuselage design, and high-speed heat exchangers to facilitate engine cooling are all in the works to ensure that airplanes only become more environmentally friendly. So while it may be strange to think about flying in a jet-powered triangle made of ceramic, that is actually the future of aviation. Isn’t science amazing?

On that note: hey, science? Where’s my flying car?

Air Filters on Planes Are Similar to Those Used in Hospitals

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Everyone knows that airplanes fly through the air—there’s a clue right there in the name, if you think about it—but we don’t often give much thought to the air inside the cabin while we’re on the way to whatever adventure our flight is carrying us toward. And it’s probably good that you don’t think about it too much: being stuck for hours in a flying tin can with hundreds of strangers may be enough to give any germaphobe nightmares for weeks to come.

But there’s nothing to worry about, because science comes to the rescue once again. The air inside airplane cabins is very carefully filtered using systems similar to those found in hospitals. By continuously cycling the cabin atmosphere through an elaborate system of filtration devices, the aircraft works to keep the air clean and to keep you germ free. Small comfort when seated next to a sick and screaming infant, but comfort nonetheless.

Another fun fact about cabin air: the atmosphere throughout the whole aircraft is kept as close to zero humidity as possible to avoid condensation interfering with delicate electronics and other important components. It may seem strange to think about, but the air in there may be the driest you ever experience. So when the steward comes around offering bottles of water, make sure you snatch one up lest you dry out like the rest of the aircraft.

There Are Four Forces of Flight

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Let’s wrap this up on a scientific note. While flight may seem like magic, it is in fact governed by a number of forces that interact in various ways to allow us to travel through the skies. With a little bit of reading, it’s pretty easy to get a grasp on them and understand the basics of how giant metal objects can soar with such impunity. In essence the forces behind flight break down like this:

Lift is the force moving perpendicular to the direction of travel, generally generated by the movement of air over the wing. As the name suggests, it pushes the aircraft up, up and away.
Drag is a result of the aircraft moving through the air. As the air resistance works against the object’s motion, it can force it to slow down if there’s not another force acting against it . . .
Thrust is that other force: whatever energy is pushing the aircraft forward in its direction of travel and working to overcome the other forces that try to slow it or hold it still. Thrust moves air over the wing, thus creating lift.

Weight is the force of gravity working on the aircraft and trying to hold it still until there’s enough thrust to overcome both it and drag. We all know how gravity works; just go find an apple tree and wait to get hit on the head if you need a refresher.

Airplanes Can Dump Fuel in the Case of Emergency Landing

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In keeping with our environmentally conscious world, airplanes do a lot to conserve fuel and make the best use of it that they can—under normal circumstances, that is. However, there’s a yin to every yang, and in this case sometimes a commercial pilot may have to make a decision to dump fuel while in flight. Why? Why would you do this? What sense does that make!?

Before you have an existential crisis, let’s look at the reasoning behind this dramatic decision. Fuel dumping is employed chiefly to reduce the overall weight of the aircraft prior to a landing. You see, aircraft are designed to operate within very specific parameters of weight, and the general design assumption is that planes will weigh much less when they land than the do when they take off. So, if the unexpected happens and an emergency landing becomes necessary, the pilot may open the fuel dump nozzles on the wings of the aircraft and let it go. The end result looks like a contrail on steroids—a heavy fog shaped like a long narrow cloud. But don’t worry about the folks down below, because the fuel thus dumped tends to evaporate fairly quickly and never reaches the ground.

Turbulence Can Occur In Any Kind of Weather and is Undetectable By Radar

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If you’re lucky enough to be able to fly regularly, you’re likely unlucky enough to have experienced the joy of in-flight turbulence. The captain likely told you it was coming, right before your smooth flight to Cleveland turned into an impromptu roller-coaster ride.

But what is turbulence? Where does it come from? Why can’t we see it coming and just . . . fly around it? Take evasive maneuvers? Well, the answer is rich with science—beautiful, deep, incomprehensible science. Turbulence is defined as “a flow regime in fluid dynamics characterized by chaotic changes in pressure and flow velocity.” Broken down, this means that different bodies of air moving at different speeds in different directions have all run into each other, creating an unpredictable mess that bounces the plane around for a while. While turbulence is most often associated with stormy weather, the fact is that grey skies and rain aren’t always present. There’s a fun little phenomena called “clear air turbulence” in which the big beautiful blue sky decides to toss you into a fun little pneumatic mosh pit. So while aviation radar can see storms coming from miles away, clear air turbulence is impossible to detect and thus avoid. Something to remember when you’re caught in it: like so much in life, it’s no one’s fault.

It’s Required That All Planes Be able to Fully Evacuate Within 90 Seconds

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We’re going to make a shift in tone here and talk about something pretty serious. At the beginning of many commercial flights, one of the crew will instruct you on the safety stuff: seat belts, oxygen masks, and emergency landing procedures. This may seem silly—most of us will never be involved in a plane crash in any way, no matter how often we fly. So why do it? Can’t we just sleep through it or something?

The reality is that when an emergency does happen, things can go bad very quickly. While planes are designed with safety in mind, serious problems can rapidly spiral out of control. FAA regulations require that all commercial passenger aircraft be capable of a full evacuation in 90 seconds. That seems fast, but in an emergency you’re up against the clock. An airplane fire can engulf the entire cabin and everyone within in less than two minutes. Air crews spend a lot of time worrying about fire: preventative measures are part of every aspect of preparing for flight, and emergency procedures are practiced till the crew can actually do them blindfolded. It’s serious stuff, so next time you’re waiting for takeoff and the steward starts to go over how seatbelts work, please pay attention.

Autopilot Takes Over During The Flight

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We all use the term “autopilot” for all sorts of things: chiefly zoning out during a Representative or mindless task like folding laundry or raking leaves. However, that popular use of the term can be a little misleading—while autopilot systems on an aircraft may be automated, they’re a long way from mindless or repetitive.

What a lot of passengers don’t know is that autopilot is probably in use during the majority of most flights. The reasons are pretty simple in essence: due to advances in computers and our understanding of flight conditions. The computers behind the autopilot can in general may more precise adjustments for flight conditions than a human operator can, and this in turn leads to a smoother flight and greater fuel efficiency. Modern engineering is a wonderful thing, even when we don’t notice it in operation.

There are some exceptions to autopilot’s superior performance. Our old friend turbulence returns once again to ruin our day. It seems that due to the chaotic nature of turbulent air, a human pilot can navigate those conditions a lot more effectively than an autopilot system can. Ditto emergency conditions—human minds just perform better. So while autopilot is a useful tool, there’s no reason to worry about Skynet seizing control of your flight. For now . . .

Most Pilots Are Paid Only For Time Spent in Air

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Let’s take a moment, dear reader, and appreciate the dedication and training of an airline crew. The resumes of everyone involved are impressive: most pilots and ground crew have military backgrounds, and many of them have served our country on an overseas combat deployment. They’re all highly trained, with numerous professional certifications and advanced academic degrees in aviation science or management. And it doesn’t stop there: the cabin crew—stewards, or “stewardesses” if you’re really old fashioned—also undergo rigorous training. They have to know how to handle any situation that may come up in the cabin, from providing top notch customer service to handling medical emergencies including heart attacks, defibrillation, or a tracheotomy . So when you’re up in the air, relax—the aircraft is designed with care to keep you safe and comfortable, and the crew on all levels are some of the most qualified professionals in any industry.

Which makes us sad to report that the crew is also woefully underpaid, when you think it through. See, most flight crews are only paid for (wait for it) flight time, ie time actually spent in the air. Driving to and from the airport, spending the night in the destination city, waiting on the runway for takeoff—none of those hours get factored in to their compensation. Next time you’re feeling underpaid, just remember: some folks do have it worse.

The Russian Made Antonov AN-225 Cargo Plane is the Largest in the World

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For Americans, bigger is always better. We invented the skyscraper, built the Hoover Dam, and put a man on the moon in pursuit of doing it bigger, better, faster and further. And this applies to aviation too. The first airplane flew in the United States thanks to the genius of the Wright Brothers. The fastest aircraft in the world flew over American skies due to American engineering. It’s poetic, it’s awe-inspiring, and it makes our hearts burst with patriotic joy . . .

. . . wait. Hold that thought. I’ve just received word that the largest aircraft in the world is . . . Russian. What? Can that be right?

Sadly, America, it is. Our largest military aircraft is the the C-5 Galaxy. While we have more than enough to be proud of as the defining force in aviation engineering, it turns out that the largest aircraft in the world is the Antonov AN-225. Nearly as long as a football field, this Soviet-era design was originally used to transport spacecraft and components. So it turns out that there’s one important record America doesn’t hold. I’d feel sad about that, but then I remember that there’s no Russian flag on the moon . . .

Largest Passenger Plane is the Airbus A380

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I keep getting more information about the biggest and largest in civil aviation, and as it turns out the rest of the world has scored a few important records. While American-made Boeing airliner jets are some of the most famous and iconic aircraft in the skies, it seems that the largest commercial aircraft currently flying is another foreign made design. The Airbus AN380, to be specific. Note: A new largest aircraft is currently in the works.

Our wounded national pride shouldn’t prevent us from appreciating the magnificence of the AN380, however. A double decker cabin gives every passenger more than enough space to fly in style, while the four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines provide enough power and range to get any cargo to its destination quickly and effectively. The AN380 has been powering through the skies with up to 544 passengers on board since 2005, and it looks like this bird is going to be part of civil aviation for the long, long haul.

However, Airbus’s AN380 has a downside: it’s a lot more expensive to operate per passenger-hour than most other commercial aircraft. An hourly cost of over $25,000 makes it a much pricier and less-efficient choice than the most comparable designs—certainly less so than the various Boeing jets. So while America many not lead in size, we’re in it for the quality. That has t count for something, right?

The Boeing 767 Sucks In Enough Air To Fill A Goodyear Blimp in 7 Seconds

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Speaking of Boeing and all things America, let’s take a look at one of its more famous commercial jets and how that thing performs. The 767 isn’t’ the largest or fastest thing in the skies, but it’s an iconic airframe with a long history and a lot to be proud of. First entering commercial service in 1982, the 767’s spacious interior and long-distance capabilities make it a common sight on every commercial airfield in the world. The fact that over a thousand of these things have been built and delivered stands as a testament to the engineer, performance, and spirit of innovation that made both the 767 and America great.

Go ahead and shed a red, white, and blue tear. I did.

The engines pushing the 767 are impressive: twin Pratt and Whitney JT9D powerhouses blast through the skies regardless of payload. How big are these engines you ask? Between them, they suck well over 200,000 cubic feet of air through the turbines every seven seconds. To give you some idea, let’s compare it to another all-American flying icon: that’s enough to fill a Goodyear Blimp. Every. Seven. Seconds. In. The. Air.

Go ahead, shed another patriotic tear. I won’t tell.

The KC-135 Stratotanker Landing Gear is Equal to 200 Automobile Tires

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What’s that, dear reader? You want to know more about the magnificence of Boeing’s aviation engineering? No worries, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve talked a lot about passenger aircraft, but let’s not forget some of the other heavy movers in the skies. The KC-135 Stratotanker is a magnificent beast, serving in militaries around the world as a mid-flight refueling aircraft. Aerial refueling is a tricky operation, as both flight crews have to communicate and coordinate carefully to line up the flying boom or probe with the appropriate port on the aircraft needing fuel. Once that happens, both aircraft have to maintain the same speed, altitude, and bearing during the entire process, which can take a while. It’s tough, it’s potentially dangerous, and you need both top-notch crew and great aircraft to pull it off.

And the KC-135 more than fits the bill. Powered by four huge CFM turbofan engines and carrying an awe-inspiring 200,000 pounds of fuel, the KC-135 is an exercise in big, tough, military grade aviation. How big? Let’s put it like this: the KC-135’s landing gear has 10 tires, which contain enough rubber to make 200 individual standard sized automobile tires. Changing one of those probably requires a bit more than just a jack and a tire iron, though.

The Smallest Jet in the World is the BD5-Micro

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World records almost always seem to focus on the largest, fastest, or biggest of something, no matter what that thing is. We never seem to give a though to the other extreme: where can we find the smallest or lightest or most compact design in a given category? Well, fear not, dear reader, because we’ve got you covered yet again.

Meet the BD-5 Micro, currently the smallest jet ever built. Initially the product of garage engineering, the first BD-5 was built by Jim Bede (get it?) as a DIY project back in 1967. From there things expanded rapidly, and Bede offered his new creation first as a kit build-it-yourself item and then as a production jet from his company Bede Aircraft. Currently known as BedeCorp, this All-American enterprise still produces experimental jets here in the US.

But back to the BD-5 Micro. While it may look like a toy, the tiny package offers big performance. With a maximum crew of one-which, come to think about it, is likely also the minimum crew—the BD-5 is powered by a single and likely lonely PBS TJ-100 turbufan engine. This may seem small, or even puny, but don’t let that fool you. The BD-5 is capable of some pretty great things with a maximum speed of well over 300 miles per hour and a max range of nearly a thousand miles. Jim Bede, you may be the greatest DIYer of all time . . .

Mercury is Considered The Greatest Threat to Airplanes

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In a post 9/11 world, we’ve all gotten used to a different commercial flight experience than we’re used to. Thanks to new safety regulations and the ever-vigilant TSA, it takes an hour or more to get on a flight and every potential threat is examined, re-examined, and eliminated. Suspicious folks get pulled for extra screening, we all take our shoes off, and there are serious restrictions on what we can bring on board.

However, some threats to aviation are less terrorist and more scientific. For example, mercury. Found in thermometers and some other household goods, mercury is interesting stuff. The only metal that is a liquid at room temperature, mercury has been prized for centuries due to its unique qualities and unusual behaviors. And while that may make for interesting science experiments and useful applications, it’s less fun for aircraft.

See, airplanes are to a great extent made of aluminum, and aluminum and mercury do not play well together. Even a tiny quantity of mercury can cause serious damage to an aircraft, such that airplanes that have been exposed to mercury are usually quarantined and decontaminated. So while mercury may be cool stuff, needless to say, it’s not allowed on board . . .

The World’s Fastest Airplane is the Lockheed SR-71

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Are you ready for both another world record and a hefty does of Americana? Want to relieve some of the most glorious moments in the history of science and engineering? Just like things that go really, really fast? Well, we’ve got something special for you . . .

Born of the unconventional genius Clarence “Kelly” Johnson in the renown Lockheed Skunk Works engineering lab, the SR-71 Blackbird is the fastest aircraft to have ever flown, a record it has held since 1976. The SR-71 was originally designed for the United States Air Force as an ultra-fast long-distance reconnaissance aircraft, a role that it filled beautifully on innumerable combat flights over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. After a brief retirement, the SR-71 returned to service in the 1990s and flew over the Middle East, North Africa, and the Balkans in the name of freedom and democracy.

Some of the specs on the Blackbird are still classified, but what we know is really impressive. With top recorded speed of well over over 2,000 miles per hour, the SR-71 stands alone as the fastest aircraft in history. It also holds the record for the highest flying, with a maximum recorded altitude of well over 85,000 feet.

We’ll never know the full story of the aircraft and the men who flew her, but the SR-71 Blackbird has earned its place in aviation history. Check out a full list of the fastest military aircraft.

Airport Control Tower Windows Are Built at Precisely 15 Degree Angle to Decrease Reflections

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Let’s play a game. Picture an airport, from the outside. You’re probably seeing the various parking areas, entrances, and terminals—but did you picture the control towers? Go ahead, imagine one.

Most of you are envisioning the same thing, down to some details you may have notice subconsciously but never really thought about. The fact is that control towers are designed specifically to maximize their efficacy and to avoid some problems that most of us passengers never really think about. For instance, the windows—did you ever notice how the windows on a control tower are always angled in? Furthermore, did you notice that every flight tower you’ve ever seen has its windows at the same angle?

Turns out there’s a very good reason for this: a 15 degree inward slant prevents all sorts of problems that might obscure the view of the air traffic controllers working within. This angle is perfect for preventing reflection from both outside and inside the tower—and that’s a good thing. A reflection of any sort might block the view of the controllers. The sun reflecting off the window might blind a pilot during takeoff. So the angled windows are a quick and easy fix that prevents a lot of problems. It’s the little things . . .

English is the International Language of Flight

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Since we’re on the subject of air traffic control, let’s talk about the professionals working in the tower. Air traffic controllers have one of the toughest jobs in aviation. Their responsibilities are huge, including maintaining the right traffic patterns for both the number of aircraft in the sky and the current weather conditions; facilitating communication between various aircraft and the tower; directing takeoffs and landings; and handling emergency situations as they arise. This requires a cool head, perfect mental and physical health, and a whole lot of training.

You know that air traffic controllers talk to aircraft, but did you ever wonder how they manage to communicate with pilots from all over the world? With thousands of languages out there, how do international airports make it work?

The secret is . . English. They all speak English. Due to a series of international treaties going back to the 1920s, English has become the standard language of international aviation. Pilots, air crews, air traffic controllers—they’re all expected to have an appropriate level of proficiency in the English language, regardless of where they work or what country they fly to. This may seem a little unfair, but in reality it is a vital safety measure to ensure that things run smoothly.

Feeling bad about not doing well in high school Spanish? Us too.

In-Flight Turbulence is the Leading Cause of Injury to Airline Passengers

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If we learned one thing while researching this list it’s “never underestimate the power of turbulence.” While turbulence isn’t likely to cause your flight to crash or to precipitate another fatal disaster, it can and does cause numerous problems for passenger aviation.

While air travel is about as safe as it gets, there are things that can cause injuries to passengers—dear old turbulence being chief among them. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, every year as many as 58 people in the US are injured due to in-flight turbulence, making it the lead cause of nonlethal injuries in aviation. The good news is that the cabin of the plane is designed to keep you safe. Over head compartments made such that they won’t open when the plane is bouncing around. Interior edges are rounded off to lessen the likelihood of an injury if you do start bouncing around. And above all, the seats and seatbelts are engineered to keep you securely in place no matter what wicked turbulence hits the aircraft.

This all presupposes that you were smart enough to listen to the highly trained professionals on the cabin crew when they told you how and when to buckle up. They’re only looking out for you, so maybe next time meet them halfway.

80% of Airplane Crashes Occur During Take-Off or Landing

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One of the running themes of this list is “Safety’s no joke” and we hope you’re taking it to heart. Airplanes are safe, as we’ve said over and over again; certainly much safer than cars. However, accidents can and do happen, and when you look at it how they do so, it’s interesting.

Interesting from a very morbid angle. Let’s get that out of the way.

There are a few organizations which study aviation accidents—chief among them the US’s FAA and the Aviation Crashes Records Office based in Geneva, Switzerland. As the pour over the data, those number-crunches have noticed an interesting pattern. Of the 2,974 crashes since 1999, around 80 percent of them took place within three minutes of either takeoff or landing. That’s . . . awfully specific, don’t you think.

It turns out that those are the most complicated parts of the flight, and thus the times when things are most likely to go wrong. Land gear can fail, engines die at bad moments, and even the most highly trained pilot can make a mistake or two. So ironically cruising along at altitude is the safe part; the closer to the ground you get the more hairy things can become.

We’re not trying to make you paranoid. Honest.

One Boeing 747-400’s Windshield Costs as Much as a BMW

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OK, time for something a bit more cheerful—we’re coming up on the end of the list after all. We all know the Boeing 747—probably the most famous airline plane of all time and one that many of us have flown on. It’s nicknamed “the Queen of the Skies” and for good reason. There are currently more than 1,500 of these machines carrying passengers and cargo around the world.

When you look under the proverbial hood, the results are even more impressive. The 747 is a big plane, powered by big engines: specifically four Pratt and Whitney JT9D-7 turbofan monsters, guaranteed to carry you and up to 600 of your closest friends to any destination you’d care to name. Now imagine doing so at just shy of the sound barrier—the 747 has a top speed clocked at an impressive Mach .92.

The size, the range, the engines—these are all impressively huge numbers, enough to make any aviation geek swoon. But sometimes its the smaller and more tangible numbers that really drive home how amazing the 747 is. And we’ve got one for you—you know the windshields and window frames of the cockpit? Each one on a 747 costs as much as a brand new BWM. Try to remember that next time you have to have a windshield replaced—it make take some of the sting out of writing that check.

Global Climate Changes Are Effecting Incidents of Turbulence

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We’re all educated, 21st century people. You’re tech savvy—heck, you’re probably reading this on a phone or mobile device of some sort. We all use the Internet every day; American spend most of their waking hours interacting with a screen of some sort. And since we’re all science literate, we all know that climate change is real, and it is starting to affect everything from agriculture to hurricane patterns to international relations. And while you may not have thought about how it will affect aviation, you’re probably not surprised to hear that it does.

One of the causes of climate change has been an increase in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is bad for a number of reasons, but one of the immediate effects has been an increase in the level of atmospheric turbulence, including our old nemesis clear air turbulence. As the skies grow more unpredictable, air travel is going to get a lot more bumpy. Scientists are working on solutions, but it seems that for the time being the skies are going to be a lot less friendly . . .